For more than a year, SANDAG did not disclose an $8.4 billion cost increase facing the projects included in TransNet, its tax-funded transportation infrastructure program approved by voters in 2004.
In an official plan last year outlining the long-term status of TransNet, the agency relied on out-of-date cost estimates that made the program appear to be on sound financial footing.
It’s the latest in a series of moves SANDAG made that hid uncomfortable truths regarding TransNet and another proposed tax hike, Measure A. SANDAG also misled voters in November about how much money Measure A would generate, and recently admitted that an error in its forecasting model had dramatically overstated the revenue expectations for TransNet.
SANDAG finally disclosed the true costs facing TransNet in December 2016. That was 14 months after those cost estimates had been fully updated – by SANDAG itself – and just a month after voters rejected Measure A.
For a year, then, SANDAG’s failure to use the most up-to-date project costs let it obscure the shortfall facing TransNet.
“To follow good policy tenents of fiscal transparency, they should have incorporated the latest cost estimates into their evaluation of TransNet – for sure,” said Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public policy research institute at the State University of New York. “Unfortunately, it sounds like this was more of a political gimmick in hopes of passing Measure A.”
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Let's separate two things.
Everyone underestimates costs. Companies do it, defense contractors do it in spades, public agencies do it. That's bad, but not illegal.
OTOH, knowing that you severely underestimated costs that the public must bear and not telling that same public that you knew... that is criminal.
And yes, kudos once again to VoSD for shining the light. Just be careful not to get too sansationalist-sounding; that's iNewsSource territory. ;-)
The more I hear from SANDAG, the more it appears to approaching rogue agency status. The Son of TransNet2 was my first tip off as it appears SANDAG blew through the 30 or 40 years of money in under 10. Higher costs, union labor rates, poor planning, lower income, fewer people in SD - maybe all apply, but are not an excuse.
The agency needs some type of reform as the mostly rubber stamping of bureaucrats initiatives by elected officials isn't cutting it. While the bureaucrats continually are meeting or trying to obtain funding through various grants, they have lost touch with providing true information while pushing massively expensive projects - elected officials are not off the hook for not realizing, not asking questions or possibly conspiring with bureaucrats to deceive the public.
My latest contact was being chosen "at random" for their transportation survey. I have received no fewer than 4 USPS letters/postcards urging me to take the survey, where I will receive $10 and then $20 gift cards to complete the survey and Nielsen ratings type travel log for a week.
Starting the survey, it was getting personal real quick. Make, year model of all cars, how many bikes do you own. But, when it asked me my height and weight, I immediately shut my browser and not because I'm apologetic about my height and weight but because it's compromises my privacy unnecessary and will turn off many others as well. The information is not in any way anonymous as you need to enter a code SANDAG asigns to each participant.
Calls to the 844 number end you up in Kansas, where you need to listen to a 30 second plus message in English, followed by a 30 plus second message in Spanish before you can be connected of leave a message with the contractor.
So ..... lying about project costs to state and federal funders helps get funds. This goes back a long way, but in the past it's always been chocked up to that planning adage - you can't always predict the future, they were just doing their best professional guesstimates. In this case, however, they've been caught on a timeline lying on a public ballot measure on both sides of the estimates - income and costs. We should not be so forgiving of this pattern.
"...it conceded that there was a crucial mistake..."
These are the sort of "mistakes" that should put someone in prison. "Crimes" is the correct word for this stuff.
Wow! Great Reporting. Renewing VOSD Membership today.
More troubling than financial misrepresentation is SANDAG's refusal to solve seismic hazard problems, and fake legal, financial, and engineering documents in order to not make waves, in order to be in conformance and score high on Competitive Grant Applications for free Federal and State Funds for Transportation projects.
SANDAG staff literally hid scientific evidence and huge costs increase from the Board, by delaying the release of 2015 active fault investigation reports. Staff stated if they acknowledged the cost increasing due to project Redesigns, they would not have the opportunity to compete at the State and Federal levels that is only available to Shovel Ready Projects.
For example, listen to the audio of the SANDAG Board of Director's Meeting on December 12, 2016, Item 12 Proposed FY-2017 Program Budget Amendment: Elvira to Morena Double Track.
The $84 million, +11.5% cost Increase in the Budget mostly due to hiding scientific evidence of active faulting, hiding known Fault Rupture Zones.
And hiding cost increases to to redesign foundations and retaining walls.
Audio Start Time 1 Hour, 4 to 11 Minutes.
Listen to Gary Gallegos, who speaks 1 Hour 8 Minutes as part of Councilmember Carrie Downey testimony. Please investigate.
Yesterday a pothole in San Diego almost ripped the wheels off my wife's car. Two more "no" votes on anything this cockamamie organization proposes...
These are serious violations and should have appropriate punishment.For starters, all those who knew or should have known should be thrown out of office or terminated with no benefits. There should also be a thorough investigation for violation of law and if appropriate they should be prosecuted. Too often crimes like this are just glossed over with no punishment or adverse effect.